Mario Lopez: “As long as the family is together, that’s the only tradition I really care about.”

With the holiday season in full swing, Parents caught up with Mario Lopez to ask about his family’s traditions. The X Factor host and proud papa of Gia, 3, and baby Dominic, 3 months, emphasized that while he loves the food and fun, nothing is more important to him than family.

How do you go about blending Mexican and American traditions?

ML: Being Mexican, I just don’t know any other way. It’s what I grew up with. My wife is 100 percent Italian; Mexican and Italian happen to be my two favorite cultures, two favorite types of food. With holiday traditions, food is very important. We prepare and serve our food together. Lately, we’ve been loving fresh avocados from Mexico, which is just a staple in a lot of the holiday dishes because they’re so versatile. I give them to my kids. I think it’s an underrated fruit, a healthy fat.

Aside from tasty treats, are there any holiday activities that have become a seasonal staple?

ML: Well, lately our tradition has been to have a very beach-y Christmas. We’ve done that the past couple years with my sister and her kids. My family and I will go down to Mexico right around Puerto Vallarta for Christmas on the beach.

Your son Dominic is only 3 months old. How will it be to travel with him?

ML: We’ve already traveled, believe it or not. He’s already gone to Chicago and he’s got a passport. He’s ready to g0 and the passport photo is the funniest thing. My daughter traveled at around 2-and-a-half months. We took her to Mexico last year, too. She’s 3 years old and her passport is all stamped up.

What present are you most excited to give Gia this holiday, just to see her reaction?

ML: The last thing she needs is another present. When we go to the beach I want her to boogie board with me. I think she’s big enough that we can take on the waves, so that will be fun.

What is the most special thing about a first Christmas as a bigger family? 

ML: I’m all about just having the family around. As long as the family is all together, that’s the only tradition I really care about. We make it all about the kids. We go to mass at midnight and sometimes the kids are a little too tired and my wife will stay with them and I’ll still go with my mom and grandmother.

Is Gia excited about Santa? 

ML: She is excited about Santa Claus. We also do the Elf on the Shelf. Right now, she’s just all about The Sound of Music. She’s been singing the songs. I can’t believe she knows all the songs and she’s only 3. She’s been singing left and right. It’s like Sound of Music overload. She’s got my energy, that’s for sure.

Working with young singers on the X Factor, does that affect how you think about your kids and their talents in the future?

ML: I’m just going to be supportive and try to guide them whatever way that they’re passionate. Just try to raise good, respectful, polite children and let their mother worry about what they want to get into.

Raising a baby boy can be different from a little girl. What is the biggest or most surprising difference so far?

ML: He’s only 3 months, so he’s just been sleeping or eating. He’s maybe been awake 10 percent of his life. He’s a good little baby. Fortunately he sleeps a lot. He even eats while he’s sleeping. My little girl, it’s hard for me to maybe be as firm as I should be disciplining her because she just melts my heart, but I don’t think I’ll have that problem with a boy.

For ideas and recipes to make your own holiday fun, visit our 100 Days of Holidays page.

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